Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaking before the Commonwealth Club of California Wednesday night, triggered a minor controversy with his remarks about homosexuality.
Perry was addressing a question about the platform of the Texas Republican party that supported the possibility for homosexuals to try “reparative therapy,” which is an attempt to help homosexuals change their sexual orientation. Perry answered that he was not sure whether the therapy worked.
The moderator, Greg Dalton, then asked Perry whether he believed homosexuality was a disorder. Perry argued that people had free will, and could choose to eschew any behavior they wished, saying, “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”
Perry’s suggestion that homosexuality might have genetic origins is actually one that the left has long favored, against conservative arguments that homosexuality is purely a lifestyle choice. Still, his phrasing struck the audience as awkward.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The large crowd gathered at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill included many Perry supporters. But the comment still drew a murmur of disbelief.”
Perry also addressed the issue of states’ rights, asserting that states should have the right to choose their positions on business subsidies and abortion. He mentioned his penchant for luring California companies to Texas and said the competition was healthy.
Perry added that he would be against climate change measures that would “strangle” the economy, including charging businesses for their carbon dioxide emissions. He attacked climate change supporters’ attitude toward opponents, calling their perspective, “You either believe this all the way, or you’re a Neanderthal.”
Perry also championed the use of fracking to tap oil and gas reserves and said that California should develop the Monterey Shale:
It’s up to you to determine the course of this state, to decide whether you live in a regulatory state or one that emphasizes freedom and growth, whether you tap into your energy potential or develop only certain forms of clean energy. Those decisions should be yours. But I do know this: the fastest way to rev up the economy is for America to develop all forms of energy.
Perry summed up the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary succinctly: “Having been involved in elected office for 30 years now, it’s pretty simple: Spend plenty of time in your home district.”